Shropshire Star

Meet the adorable new meerkat pups born at West Midland Safari Park

There's an exciting 'pup'date from West Midland Safari Park, who are pleased to announce the arrival of three tiny meerkat pups – the first litter at the park in over nine years.

The new meerkat pups. Photo: Matthew Lissimore.

Signs that the incredibly cute youngsters had been born were spotted on July 22 when none of the adult meerkats were out in their habitat.

Keepers found the adults’ heads poking out of the nest box, with some tiny squeaks being emitted from inside.

A quick look inside confirmed that three minuscule baby meerkats had been born, no bigger than a matchbox car, their eyes and ears shut and completely reliant on their mum, Heather, and dad, Monty.

The keepers have kept their distance from the pups, but have noticed that Heather’s friend, Peony, is also sharing the parental duties, babysitting the pups, while Heather sleeps or is out feeding.

The pups are no bigger than a matchbox car. Photo: Matthew Lissimore.

Head of wildlife Angela Potter said: “We are all really pleased with the birth of these three meerkat pups, the first we have had here since 2013.

“It is a really good news story for dad, Monty, who is quite an old boy at 13 years of age. He has been part of a bachelor group for all of his life, but with the introduction of the two new females who joined the collection earlier this year from Woburn Safari Park, we were able to give him the chance to become a first-time dad.

“He has taken to the new role very successfully and it is great to see him interacting and looking after his new family.

“Heather is doing a fantastic job, but her close friend Peony is also very attentive and helping to care for the pups.

“This cooperative approach to rearing the young is a hugely successful strategy for meerkats in the wild, to ensure the survival of the little ones in a harsh desert environment.”

The new meerkat pups. Photo: Matthew Lissimore.
One of the safari park's new arrivals. Photo: Matthew Lissimore.

At birth, baby meerkats only weigh around 25 grams and are completely helpless. Now at 20 days old, the meerkats have opened their eyes, can hear and are more mobile.

The pups have received a quick health check from the park vets, who confirmed the three youngsters are happy and healthy, meaning they can be given the option to venture out into their habitat this weekend.

They will receive another health check in the next few weeks, where vets will also determine their sexes.

The adorable new arrivals. Photo: Matthew Lissimore.
The adorable new arrivals. Photo: Matthew Lissimore.
One of the park's adorable new arrivals. Photo: Matthew Lissimore.

Keepers will then choose names for the pups beginning with K, as all babies born at the park during 2022 will have names starting with this letter.

Guests may be able to glimpse the baby meerkats in their habitat located in the African Village, alongside Heather, Monty, Peony and juvenile, Kalmia.

Further information about West Midland Safari Park is available from the Park’s website or by calling 01299 402114.